By Douglas Busvine
BERLIN (Reuters) – Huawei, the Chinese technology and telecoms group hit by U.S. sanctions, said on Monday it was confident of meeting the security requirements that Germany is setting for its fifth-generation mobile networks.
The upbeat comment, by Huawei’s Germany chief technology officer Werner Haas, comes as the country’s telecoms and cyber watchdogs hone security criteria that vendors such as Huawei will have to fulfil to gain certification.
Germany has just completed a 6.5 billion euro (5.8 billion pounds) auction of 5G spectrum that can, for example, run “smart” factories, setting the stage for Huawei and rivals Ericsson and Nokia to vie for billions in deals.
“We expect there to be good and pragmatic (security) solutions – and we have no doubt that we will fulfil them,” Haas told reporters in Berlin.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has targeted Huawei as part of his broader drive to rebalance trade with China, last month imposing export controls on the Shenzhen-based global networks market leader.
That measure has forced key Western suppliers, such as UK-based chip designer ARM, to curb deliveries and led Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, to warn that revenue could take a $30 billion hit this year as a result.
In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, the government and regulators have, after lengthy debate, spurned U.S. calls to banish Huawei on national security grounds.
Instead, they have set a level playing field for all foreign vendors, requiring them to meet key technical criteria – such as strong encryption of sensitive information, or whether a network is robust enough to withstand sabotage.
These technical criteria, sketched out in March, are still being refined. A further requirement for vendors to be deemed “trustworthy” to win certification is also under discussion, and was raised by Economy Minister Peter Altmaier in China last week.
One concern in the West has been a Chinese intelligence law that requires citizens and companies to aid the state in espionage investigations. Huawei founder Ren has said that no law required his company to install so-called backdoors that could be used for spying.
Haas said Huawei, which has long-standing supplier relationships with Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland, was already well known in Germany as a secure, safe and reliable partner.
He also pushed back against U.S. assertions that backdoors in networks were an issue. Instead, he said, it was vital for vendors and operators to make sure that the billions of devices and sensors that will be connected to the so-called Internet of Things are safe.
“Those are the greatest challenges,” said Haas.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by David Evans)